NOLA

During my annual trip to New Orleans, I always try to get at least one great finer dining experience.  I say “finer” dining because these days you can get fine dining quality in a more casual setting.  That being said, the 2014 NOLA trip took me to another Emeril Lagasse restaurant.

NOLA is steps from the French Quarter.  It is clear that the service at Emeril’s restaurants is consistently impeccable.  They are very attentive, and of course the food stands alone.

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Roasted beet salad

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Stuffed Fried Chicken Wings (stuffed with – shrimp, pork, mushrooms and veggies)

IMG_3147 Garlic Crusted Drum Fish with potato bacon hash

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GRILLED PORK CHOP

brown sugar glazed sweet potatoes ∙ toasted pecans ∙ caramelized onion reduction sauce

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KEY LIME BREAD PUDDING

Vanilla Meringue, Key Lime Curd, Rum-Ginger Caramel Sauce, Graham Cracker Ice Cream

 

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WARM OOEY GOOEY CAKE

Moist Chocolate Cake, Marshmallows, Toasted Coconut, Vanilla Ice Cream

When you get to NOLA I have a pretty good lit of placed to have a nice dinner, NOLA is on the list.

 

 

 

 

 

Brussels Sprouts Anyone Will Like

This Thanksgiving I had a small gathering and wanted to ensure that all of my guests had options to be able to get full.  I had some that didn’t eat pork, some that didn’t eat meat, and others that wanted healthy options.  On the menu were the following traditional dishes:

  • roasted turkey
  • turkey gravy
  • homemade cranberry sauce
  • dressing (also known as stuffing)
  • collard greens (with turkey stock)
  • green beans (with turkey stock)
  • candied sweet potatoes
  • dinner rolls
  • Apple Pie

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For the non traditional options that still provided a thanksgiving feast, the following dishes were served:

Yes, you will like these brussels sprouts and the recipe is so simple, I modified it a bit from the original.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of brussel sprouts cut in half
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 5 mijool dates minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • Italian Seasoning to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a saute pan to medium with oil, onion, dates, and garlic, until vegetables have softened.  Add the brussels sprouts and salt, and saute for 5-7 minutes, if the brussels sprouts have not cooked through add about 1/4 cup of water, and cover to allow the veggies to steam for an additional minute.

This very straight forward recipe will convert the everyday person that would normally look past the brussels sprouts, as well as provide a healthy option for dinner.

 

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Toloache 50

I always struggle finding good food in Midtown Manhattan, but last year I stumbled upon this spot, and I have been back a few times since.  It is a great place to experiment a bit with your palate.  I have yet to get up the nerve to try the Oaxacan style dried grasshoppers tacos, but I have dined at Toloache at 251 W. 50th St. several times, and really enjoyed everything so far.

My most recent visit was another great experience.  We started with a traditional guacamole, they have staff making guacamole nonstop, in front of the brick oven that cooks several of the dishes.

IMG_1886Fried Brussels Sprouts

I’m not usually a fan of the brussels sprouts, but these, with what I think was cotija cheese, were so good.

IMG_1888Pescado Taco – Baja-style tilapia, spicy jicama slaw, and guacamole

Fresh and light tacos with a delicious crunchy slaw.  I predict my next lunch stop in Midtown will be for these tacos.  The fish tacos are a perfect lunch bite.

IMG_1889Costilla & Tuetano Tacos - Beef short ribs, bone marrow, roasted red onion jalapeno chiles toreados, Thai basil

For a bit of a heavier bite, the beef short rib tacos were perfect, and what made them perfect was the bone marrow on top of them.  And to wash all of that down was a nice cold Margarita.  Toloache has a great list of Margaritas, from sweet to spicy and finally traditional.  I went with the sweet and had a Skinny (Agave Nectar instead of sugar) strawberry margarita.

Though we didn’t stay for dessert this visit, I have had the Tres Leches Cake, and it was, in a word, awesome.

The great news about Toloache is that it is open for lunch, brunch and dinner, has 3 locations, and the service is great.  Although it is a bit noisy, it is a great place to dine and enjoy the bar.

The Toloache brand is led by Chef owner Julian Medina.  He has an awesome road to success story.  After being discovered in Mexico City by Chef Richard Sandoval, he became Chef de Cuisine of Maya, an upscale Mexican restaurant.  And the kicker that is the most impressive, he still decided to pursue a culinary education at The French Culinary Institute.

The Frog and the Peach

On a whim, a friend and I decided to grab an elegant dinner at one of the top restaurants in New Brunswick New Jersey.  The Frog and the Peach is a great place for a date, or a quiet place to catch up with friends.  The bartenders know what they are doing, and the kitchen does superb.  Here is the run down:

Za’atar Spiced Flatbread Herb Puree, Chickpeas, Peppers, Olives, House Made Yogurt Cheese

Za’atar Spiced Flatbread
Herb Puree, Chickpeas, Peppers, Olives,
House Made Yogurt Cheese

 

Slow Poached Egg Crispy Stone Ground Polenta, Hen-of-the-Wood Mushroom, Red Sorrel, Amontillado Sherry |

Slow Poached Egg
Crispy Stone Ground Polenta, Hen-of-the-Wood Mushroom, Red Sorrel, Amontillado Sherry

 

Pan Roasted Rabbit Saddle  Herb Stuffed, Bacon and Swiss Chard Gratin, Tomato Vinaigrette

Pan Roasted Rabbit Saddle
Herb Stuffed, Bacon and Swiss Chard Gratin,
Tomato Vinaigrette

 

Peach Dessert

Peach Dessert

The Frog and The Peach, never disappoints.  The service is great, and the food, is top notch.

The Frog and The Peach kitchen is led by Executive chef Bruce Lefebvre, CIA graduate.  He has a wealth of experience, including working for Charlie Palmer.  Not only is Chef Bruce the Executive Chef, he is also the owner since 2012.  If you are passing through the Rutgers University area, and are interested in an elegant and tasty meal, make a reservation at The Frog and The Peach.

 

Dream Big

Dream-Big

 

Have you ever woke up one day or just began to get clarity about your life’s purpose or better yet, your passion?

Let me back up by saying this post is not really about a particular recipe, or even a particular food experience.  This post is more about ensuring that you decide early to pursue your passion.

I’ve been an engineer for 12 years working for the same company.  The work has taken me to different places in the US, taught me a ton about dealing with different personalities, and problem solving.  And it has also helped me find what I truly have passion for.  When I moved away and out of my parents house, I was forced into a kitchen that I really hadn’t had a great deal of interest in, so I thought.  Throughout high-school, I worked at a rotisserie chicken joint, and learned a ton about prepping, but at that point, I just liked making money.  But when I had to begin to cook for myself I began to try different recipes, and I began to challenge myself to improve my skills.

I say all of that to say that on my journey to grow into a big time leader within the company I have worked for, for over a decade (wow, that is a long time), I had a moment of clarity, well several moments of clarity, that I have a passion that I can not ignore, for food, and everything surrounding it.  I want to encourage those not sure of their passion to search for it, and once you find it, you have a few choices.

Choice #1 Drop everything and follow your passion with reckless abandon… ummm that is good, and works for many, but I have never been a huge risk taker, and I think that has served me well in life thus far.

Choice #2 Study your passion, and commit to dedicating the time to make it a larger part of your life, all while ensuring that you learn everything that there is to learn, in your current career.  Move up that corporate ladder and increase your understanding of your purpose, and your lessons in your main career.  This is more my speed, while I have a total passion for food, I have a passion for challenges.  Challenging myself to climb as high as I can in my corporate career provides me a certain level of excitement.  And the stability that it provides in my life and to my lifestyle, certainly doesn’t hurt as well.

The important thing is that you recognize the signs and those clarifying moments that reveal your passion and purpose.  Its not important to make money on your passion, but it is important that you feed it in some way that allows you to acknowledge it and not turn your back on it.  There is nothing like getting so caught up with life that you turn around and regret that you didn’t dedicate the time you could have to pursue your life’s passion.

Dream Big, and Live Bigger

Tips to Covet The Mighty Cronut™

After taking my sister to New York from Jersey for an early flight home, and needing to meet friends to carpool back to NYC, I decided I might catch a few zzz’s and capture my free parking spot for the day in SoHo and meet them in the city, but then I remembered the big hoopla around a certain breakfast pastry. The Cronut™ is the new food version of the Beatles, or Michael Jackson, or whatever celebrity was totally not accessible to you and you may have had a chance encounter, that was R&B groups New Edition and Jodeci for me, but anyway I digress. I pulled up in front of the bakery that makes and houses “the cronut”, Dominique Ansel Bakery, and I saw a not so overwhelming line. As I walked closer, I realized that the hype is real, the line turned the corner of Spring Street onto Thompson, keep in mind it was 6:40 am on a Saturday. I considered saying forget it, but I thought, its not raining and the heat hadn’t arrived for the day just yet, so I hopped my sleepy self into the line.

So here is the deal, here are some tips:

  1. The line stays long, don’t think that just because the doors opened you are getting right in.
  2. It is a small bakery, they only let in like 10-15 people at a time, every about 10 – 15 minutes.
  3. Majority of the patrons currently are getting Cronuts™, and they will run out about 3 hours after the doors open.
  4. There is a 2 Cronut™ limit (get the limit) I didn’t know it was going to be so good and only got 1
  5. I just learned that if you purchase a Cronut™ t-shirt online and wear it in line to purchase your Cronuts™ you will have a 4 Cronut™ limit ($20 investment http://teespring.com/cronut) and feed 50 people because the proceeds of the t-shirt purchse goes to foodbanknyc.com.
  6. Bring a chair, and a friend (I was alone and my back hurt from standing)
  7. Bring an ipod, or playing cards, and sunscreen
  8. IF by chance you are not interested in the line or a Cronut™, fear not go right on in and get anything but the Cronut™.
  9. Get to know your friends in line, foodies love foodies.
  10. Last but not least, DO NOT leave without getting the DKA, don’t ask, just order 1 or 2…or 3. (post coming soon)
So to close out the story, I ate my Cronut™ along with a few other goodies and napped in my car until my friends arrived ready to shop the city. I will say that as I stood in line, I was thinking, “I’m an idiot for this, it is just a donut”.
Can I tell you…
IT IS NOT JUST A DONUT!!

Dominique Ansel Bakery

Perfect Little Egg Sandwich

 

Run don’t walk, to get in line,to get a Cronut™….but get there 3 hours before the door opens.

 

NOLA

 

 

I will say that, I took a little hiatus from the blog, but I am back and will aim for more frequent entries, lets aim for weekly.  I’ve been having some great culinary delights, and I have so much to share so stay tuned.

July was a great month for food. I went to New Orleans to celebrate the 4th of July, and got to experience a few of famous chef John Besh’s restaurants. Who knew Chef Besh had an eatery in a museum in NOLA, but he does in the WWII Museum.  American Sector is a great place for a burger and shake, and that is exactly what I had.

The Mexican Burger, French Fries, Strawberry Milkshake

The burger was a bit more dry than I usually like, but, all and all I would go back and try the other burgers.

Next up was Bourgne, in the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.  It was another casual spot, but highlighted the seafood of New Orleans.  But alas I chose pork, which was yummy, however, it was a lot.  The star was the goat

Curry Goat and Naan, Bread, and

Crispy Pork Shank (celery root, lentils, orange mint gremolata)

 

But the best of all meals in NOLA…. Emeril’s Restaurant.  This was the number 1 meal.  They treat you like royalty, they don’t call you ma’am they call you Mr. so and so or Ms. so and so.  I love feeling VIP.  All of the seats at the table to watch the kitchen were taken but we did get seated near the Kitchen and I had a perfect view of the expeditor.  The assorted breads that they bring you are great..  One word, cornbread, it was the best.

Fish on the bed of Fried Green Tomatoes and slaw, bread, mussels, and key lime pie

 

The waiters were awesome, and I just throughly enjoyed the dining experience, so I will absolutely be back.